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25 Reviews
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April 30, 2013
4 people found this review helpful

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1 previous review
October 16, 2012

I'm a disabled Vietnam vet. My dog and were accepted to the training in July of this year. I cannot find enough words to describe how much my life has changed. Having PTSD, it was a major step for ... more

April 30, 2013
4 people found this review helpful

Our experience with Operation Freedom Paws has been life-changing. My wife knew she was slowly losing me to PTSD. Fortunately, my VA counselor recommended OFP to us. Founder, Mary Cortani, accepted me and my puppy as veteran-clients last July, 2012. I committed to the program largely because of Mary's military background in dog training. Our family and friends have been relived and surprised by the progress and healing they have witnessed.

My 130-pound puppy and I enjoy our training sessions and continue to learn new skills from Mary and her team that help us maneuver in public settings. Abbey and I look forward to seeing our OFP family, human and canine. I am able to go out in public again because I have a companion that is trained to assist with my specific needs.

We will continue to volunteer our time to OFP after graduation because the program provides such a valuable service to our veterans. It is also heart warming to see the rescued shelter dogs so happy to please their new owners.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

October 16, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

I'm a disabled Vietnam vet. My dog and were accepted to the training in July of this year. I cannot find enough words to describe how much my life has changed. Having PTSD, it was a major step for me to start. Mary Cortani told me that she would have my back at all times and that OFP was a safe environment. She has done that and more. I find myself looking forward to training and becoming a team with my dog. OFP has changed my life in a very wonderful way. Mary and her great team do a super service to veteran and others with disabilities.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

April 25, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

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April 25, 2013
3 people found this review helpful

in March 2010, my husband was hospitalized for a severe case of pneumonia. He was also diagnosed with the beginning stages of emphysema, which was not all that surprising since he had been a heavy smoker for over 40 years up to that point. After spending close to a week in the hospital, he was released with a very promising prognosis and a commitment to never light up another cigarette.

Unfortunately, all of this wonderful progress was short-lived. On the 3rd day after being released from the hospital, he began his medication regimen which included a new antibiotic that he had not been given previously in the hospital. Within 5 minutes of taking it, he underwent an anaphylactic shock which caused one of his lungs to completely shut down and he nearly died. After being rushed back to the hospital and spending several more days recovering from this medical episode, he was released. Thus began a 3 year journey of watching my husband who had always been the calm leader and primary provider of our household transform into a completely different man who was unable to work and was continuously anxious and becoming increasingly depressed.

Everything was turned inside out and upside down. Life was no longer “normal” as we knew it. All the dreams and plans that we had for this time in my life for traveling, spending time with grand kids, being financially secure, were vanishing like grains of sand running through a sieve.

Now three years later, through the help of Operation Freedom Paws and Mary Cortani's compassionate training program with veterans and civilians and their dogs, we literally have a new lease on life and hope for the future. Mary's focus on training the handler and the dog has provided what the multitude of anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications could not provide. Although my husband still has issues of anxiety which is probably now more of a result of the COPD issues that he has to cope with, he is able to go out on his own because of his service dog. Before, he had a very difficult time going out without me accompanying him. He has also been able to stop using one of the medications that he was on for depression. It has been a real blessing for our family.

We have always had a heart for organizations that provide services to our veterans. As supporters of several veteran organizations including another service dog program in Florida, we were thrilled to find Operation Freedom Paws, a local organization that we could not only support financially but also participate as clients in. Mary Cortani and her staff of volunteer mentor trainers have been a God-send to us and I cannot say enough positive things about them. We are living proof that her program works!

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

April 25, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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1 previous review
July 1, 2012

In 2010 a military veteran contacted dog-trainer Mary Cortani. He had been waiting for a service dog for a long time, and wondered if she could somehow help him. That was the beginning of Operation Fr... more

April 25, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

Last year I reviewed Operation Freedom Paws as a volunteer, and I am still in that role. However, I am now a client as well. Mary Cortani, founder of OFP, is helping me train my rescued pit bull to be a peanut-sniffing medical alert service dog. I have had a lifelong (and life-threatening) allergy to peanuts. Last year I was told by a friend about peanut-alert service dogs that can be purchased from other organizations. After doing some internet research, I asked Mary if, with her background of training Army dogs to sniff out bombs and drugs, she might be able to help my dog learn to alert on peanuts. Mary's training methods vary depending on the client and the dog. She uses different equipment for each dog, depending on the dog and handler's physical attributes and needs. We started with nose work and then began focusing on peanuts....and it's working! A couple of weeks ago she alterted on a donut and a banana that were sprinkled with them.

I still thoroughly enjoy volunteering with the group as well. It's a joy to see veterans and others struggling with PTSD, TBI and/or mobility challenges coming out of their shells and having the confidence to interact with fellow students because they have their dogs beside them. The combination of veterans, civilians, service dog clients, and paying customers training their pets gives everyone an opportunity to form new relationships. Everyone bonds through their dogs, and we celebrate each individual milestone with every member of our "OFP family".

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

July 1, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

In 2010 a military veteran contacted dog-trainer Mary Cortani. He had been waiting for a service dog for a long time, and wondered if she could somehow help him. That was the beginning of Operation Freedoms Paws, which teaches individuals the necessary skills to train their own service dogs, then certifies them together as a service dog team. The dogs, usually from rescue organizations or shelters, are evaluated by OFP volunteers and then matched with a specific person to meet his/her physical and psychological needs. I became involved with the group while attending dog-training classes, and I'm incredibly proud to have the opportunity to volunteer with this organization.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

attending dog-training classes and having the opportunity to meet the people being helped by OFP's Service Dog program. The impact that dogs can have on the lives of veterans suffering from PTSD is amazing. Mary has a special gift for matching the right dog with the right person.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

give them a larger budget!

More feedback...

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Quite well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

What one change could this group make that would improve your volunteer experience?

The group is new, and the national publicity they have recently received from a CNN Hero award has been overwhelming. Everyone is scrambling to respond to requests for information and help---the infrastructure to support this explosion of interest isn't there yet, but it will be!

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

Have made lots of new friends, both human and canine. My dog has learned new skills very quickly, and has benefitted from all the socialization, discipline and exposure. I had been considering taking a grant-writing class, and when Mary said this could help her group, I took the plunge. I still have a long way to go, but I'm enjoying what I've experienced of the process so far.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Useful.

April 25, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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April 25, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

My partner and I have been going to Operation Freedom Paws for close to two months now and it has changed our lives. Mary and the organization provide wonderful training to everyone who attends. My partner and his service dog Bravo could not be happier!

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

April 25, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

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April 25, 2013
1 person found this review helpful

I was first referred to Operation Freedoms Paws in late 2012 by my doctor as one of our last efforts to get my PTSD and panic disorder under control. I met with Mary Cortani in October and was instantly swept away in her vision for veterans who suffer from their wounds of service and for the civilians with their own challenges. I can say without a doubt that this organization has not only changed my life but the service dog I have because of Mary has actually saved my life. I cannot imagine finding a more warm open caring group of individuals who are truly in this organization to better the lives of those around them and to even give shelter dogs a second chance at a heroic new life, serving their disabled people.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Quite well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

November 14, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

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November 14, 2012
1 person found this review helpful

There are so many great things that have already been said about Mary and her organization Operation Freedom Paws and how much she helps wounded veterans and all of those things are absolutely true. I also want to point out another great reason to support this incredibly worthy cause - helping animals. Most of the dogs Mary pairs with the Vets are rescues. I am incredibly proud to have met Mary and she helped us turn our bully breed rescue puppy into a loyal and much loved companion. Since we attended the same classes as the Vets we were able to witness first hand the incredible progress they are making thanks to Mary's tireless work.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

A lot

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

October 9, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

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October 9, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

I am a disabled veteran with PTSD, and hearing loss. I was recommended to get a service dog by my Dr. Soon after I found Operation Freedoms Paws and they changed my life. Mary Cortani as well as the mentor trainers provided amazing instruction. Not only did they teach me to train my own dog, but the classes and relationships I have made have been wonder therapy for me as well. I am blessed to have an amazing service dog. He helps me negotiate the world and provide be with a more normal life.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

October 9, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

more

October 9, 2012
2 people found this review helpful

I spent over a decade essentially housebound, afraid to go out and face the world. I was referred to Operation Freedoms Paws and Mary Cortani through the VA, and it has changed my life. I was paired with Shadow, and am now able to not only do daily activities such as shopping, walking around the block, etc., but I am starting to be able to do much more. Just recently I attended a family baby shower - and it had been over 12 years since I have been able to go to a family event. There are not enough good things to say about this organization. They have truly changed my life for the better.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

September 13, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

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September 13, 2012
4 people found this review helpful

Mary Cortani, the founder of Operation Freedoms Paws, helped my son when no one else would. My 14 year old son has cerebral palsy and wanted a service dog to help him with physical tasks, as well as be his companion. While there are many organizations that train service dogs, there are none locally that will certify anyone under 18 years of age or help you train your own dog. Both my son and I are working through the certification process with his dog, Enzo. During the past 8 months, Mary has spent over 64 hours training with us and has never asked for anything in return. She donates her time, for classes held just about every day of the week where veterans, and those with physical disabilities, train their own service dogs. Besides giving her time, she gives her heart to all those around her. She is truly amazing. There are others who volunteer their time too, as a way to give back to Mary and Operation Freedoms Paws. It's hard to understand how special this organization is until you've been to classes with Operation Freedoms Paws - if you can imagine an extremely supportive environment for those leading difficult lives, where training your dog is a joyful and healing experience, that's Operation Freedoms Paws.

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

July 26, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

more

Review from Guidestar
July 26, 2012
3 people found this review helpful

I am both a volunteer and a client of OFP. My service dog is tasked with helping me with agoraphobia, anxiety and depression. I started as a volunteer and I raise puppies for matching with the veterans and people with needs. The compassion and care given to every person who walks through the doors is unsurpassed. Mary Cortani's skills with both people and dogs makes for a unique and powerful combination. This organization is a train the trainer program and has impacted every client the moment they walk through the door!

More feedback...

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2012

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